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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Academy chief joins the exodus of Tynedale heads

NO fewer than seven of Tynedale’s schools are preparing for new leadership following the departure of another headteacher.

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Mike Routledge steered Haltwhistle Community Campus to academy status last summer.

Head of Haltwhistle Community Campus, Mike Routledge, will retire in the summer after a successful 13 years at the helm.

He will leave less than a year after the school broke free from Northumberland County Council control and became the first in the district to adopt academy status.

The job vacancy has been advertised on the internet, with governors stating their determination to build on the academy’s most recent Ofsted report, when it was judged as “good with outstanding features”.

The advert reads: “Due to the retirement of our headteacher, the board of governors is looking to appoint an equally enthusiastic and forward thinking leader.

“Having become an academy in September 2013 we seek someone with the energy and vision to move our campus from its last Ofsted.”

Mr Routledge has overseen big changes since 2001, when he arrived at what was then known as South Tynedale Middle School.

Six years ago, it combined with Haltwhistle First School and its nursery to form one federation, operating under the same governing body.

Mr Routledge then successfully campaigned for the school, renamed Haltwhistle Community Campus at the time of the federation in 2008, to become an academy.

Unlike other schools in the district, the campus is funded directly from the Department for Education and has more freedom to alter the curriculum to suit the needs of its 400 pupils, from nursery age to year 8.

The announcement comes just three weeks after Neil Morrison, the head of both Hexham Middle School and the town’s Queen Elizabeth High School, revealed he will leave in the summer, six years after joining QEHS from Whickham Comprehensive in Gateshead.

Mr Morrison took over at the middle school in September 2012, following the retirement of Neil Cassidy and David Watson, and became responsible for both schools, which have been federated for six years and share a board of governors.

Elsewhere, Audrey Cox will retire as headteacher of Shaftoe Trust First School in Haydon Bridge, at Easter, after 20 years in the post. She will be replaced by Gill Woodward, who is currently a senior teacher at Ovingham First School.

Angela Steele is set to depart Humshaugh First School after a decade in the role, with a retirement party due to take place next month.

Two other Tynedale schools are also seeking new headteachers following the departures of Dr Iain Shaw at Prudhoe High, and Julie Logan at Corbridge First School.

Dr Shaw left his post by mutual consent earlier this month after eight years, following a damning Ofsted report, claiming an action plan to keep the school out of special measures was deemed “not fit for purpose”.

However, a planned rebuilding of the school has been given the go-ahead by the DfE, following support from Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman. Prudhoe High’s governors are also exploring the possibility of adopting academy status.

Two weeks ago, Julie Logan was sacked as head of Corbridge First School following a 14-month suspension and a hearing by a panel of the governing body at the end of January.

The school is currently being led by acting head Gillian Tawse, with the process of appointing a permanent successor now underway.

Mrs Logan was suspended from duty pending an investigation in November 2012, after holding the post for just over a year.

It followed a governing body decision to end the provision of hot school meals, which Mrs Logan was understood to have opposed.

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